Behavioural methods

In behavioral audiometric methods, animals are trained to indicate when they have heard a sound with given acoustic properties (for instance by pressing a button). Using this methodology requires extensive training of animals. This is usually conducted by first establishing basic training procedures like target training using primary and secondary reinforcers. If the animals shows the correct response, this behaviour is positively reinforced, for example by receiving a reward ("operant conditioning").

Animal training can be termed a science on its own, but a particularly good introduction is "ANIMAL TRAINING 101: The Complete and Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Behavior Modification" by Jennifer A. Zeligs. Each laboratory follows their own paradigms resulting in small differences of audiograms based on the reinforcement scheme.

The animals can then be exposed to different frequencies of varying loudness. By increasing or decreasing the intensity, detection thresholds can be measured for different frequencies.

There are two methods that have been used extensively over the years to establish thresholds, the method of constants and the staircase procedure. Both of these methods have advantages and disadvantages so that each experiment must take into account that procedures have to vary based on the species, age, sex and other parameters.